Do you know the difference? Luckily I do, and last week a day of shopping with my son became a lesson on the true difference between organic and heirloom seeds and plants.
The first difference is in the age and development of the seeds. Heirloom seeds typically have been passed down 50+ years and are from non-hybrid/GMO plants. These plant types have grown and developed through natural pollination but may or may not have been grown organically.
Organic seeds have been cultured from either heirloom or hybrid plants. The plant must have been grown chemical-free using natural compost and insecticides with soap-based sprays and bone meal allowed.
So can you grow heirloom and organic seeds in the same garden? Yes, BUT, while the heirloom seeds will produce heirloom plants on first run, the resulting plants might be blended with the organic plants and will only remain ‘heirloom’ if both were originally. AND, the organic seeds will only produce ‘organic’ plants if they are grown and nurtured organically to maturity.
How to make sure your heirlooms remain heirloom? You need a buffer zone, basically acreage, between you and your neighbors farms and gardens to keep cross-pollination with non-heirloom plants from occurring. This is a difficult process and the outcome from year to year can be unpredictable.
So look for organic heirloom seeds and if needed, purchases new seeds annually to ensure you are truly getting the best for your family.
Although many heirloom seed producers are not organic, and vise versa, growers such as Organic Seed People offers organic heirloom seeds. (When visiting their site, be sure to scroll down to the link for ‘Organic Heirloom Seeds.” The link will bring up three choices: Vegetables, Flowers and Herbs with multiple choices under each. You must make sure that you don’t get into the wrong area by side-links or you might mistakenly purchase seeds that are not both organic and heirloom.)
* Please note, I do NOT receive compensation for links. I am merely helping the process in finding viable sources and cannot guarantee products!